Friday, October 29, 2010

One BIGGGGGG grub!

Take a look what someone brought me today!! One big grub! Jason Bailey, who lives in our neighborhood, told on the phone that he'd found the biggest grub he'd EVER seen in his mulch pile. Could he bring it to me for identification? Well, sure!

When he handed the plastic cup to me, and I peeked inside–OH MY STARS OVER BLANCO! I'd never ever seen anything that big (and ugly) either! Before I actually saw it, I'd already guessed it to be an ox beetle larva (Strategus aloeus). I was right. I've found them in our Wildscape before and have blogged about the species in the past.

After James got home, I showed him the cup. He peered inside, then jumped WAY back!! "What's THAT?!" he exclaimed. "It's HUGE!" Yep, I grinned, it sure is.

I shot some charming portraits and even handled it, using a glove. I could have sworn I felt it trying to gnaw on the glove. "Ewwwww, it IS big!" I squealed to James. I'm not usually squeamish about insects, bugs and spiders. But this one made me shudder a little. Yuck. Then I dug a little hole in our compost pile and dropped it there. I'm not sure when it'll pupate into an adult beetle (next spring probably), but it'll definitely look a lot better when it does.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blessings to my readers...

I'd like to share my article
the November issue of Guideposts
in the hopes that it will help
someone in some way....
"A Mother's Thankful Prayers."

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Fall aster

White mistflower
(It just busted out in blooms yesterday.)

Butterfly weed

Toad relocation Part 2

Home again

Two days ago (see Tuesday, Oct. 19 post), I moved a big, fat toad to the sanctuary, where I thought he'd be much happier. In the sanctuary, I keep two shallow plates filled with water, just for toads. Key word: I. Yes, I thought he'd be happier. Evidently the toad did NOT agree because he went right back to the yucky corner where the air conditioner drain drips!

What I didn't mention is the sanctuary is clear across the back yard, a pretty long journey by webbed foot, I'd think. But this toad didn't care. He trekked right back to his corner, where I spotted him just a while ago. I just had to laugh. Now that's a determined toad!

And you know, I could SWEAR I moved him over to the sanctuary a few months ago, too....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jumping spider portrait

I couldn't resist shooting some evening photos of this jumping spider. I found her on a lawn chair in the back yard. She's a beautiful lady but was very sluggish. She didn't act interested when I swayed a finger at her and barely moved when I tried to pick her up. But she'll be immortalized now within the pixels of these digital images.....

This butterfly needs glasses

It's mid October, and the Gulf fritillary mamas are still visiting our passionflower vines and depositing eggs! I happened to notice that one laid an egg on the chain-link fence! (The photo above's not great but at least you get the picture.) She needs to get her eyes checked! Maybe she's the same one who chose the chewed up branch below for another egg drop. Oh, well, it's cool that we still have caterpillars, hanging out in our Wildscape, especially this late in the season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Agatha's back!

We didn't get any

to document

today's exciting

(she ducked back down),

but we DID spot

an eastern screech owl,

roosting in our Owl Shack

this afternoon!!!

UPDATE, FEBRUARY 5, 2011–Columnists Gary and Kathy Clark wrote about eastern screech owls in today's San Antonio Express-News. Check out their article, "Eastern screech owls are difficult to ignore."

A spider chair

A few years ago, Keith, one of my daughter's ex boyfriends, gave her a wooden chair he made in ag class and painted green. Today, I spotted a smart little funnel weaver (Agelenopsis sp.) spider who's made her web in a corner of the chair seat.

Typically, funnel weavers construct their webs on the ground in grassy areas. They get their name from the funnel-shaped webs they construct. They lurk in the funnel opening and wait for an insect to bumble onto the sheet-like webbing, then they rush out and grab it.

A native fall oxalis

Oxalis drummondii

Some gigantic salvias

Mountain sage
Planted as two little bedding plants in May 2009

Mexican salvia
Just planted in May 2010!

Caterpillars on wedelia

I just think it's so cool to understand now that whenever I see a caterpillar or caterpillars, they're usually on a specific host plant. So when I spotted small masses of tiny caterpillars on the wedelia awhile ago, I looked up the plant species and that led me to the likely caterpillar species: bordered patch. I'm not certain yet, but odds are that's what the species is. We'll see!

Chile pequins relocated, too

Last week, I happened to notice a huge, healthy chile pequin, growing along a neighbor's fence line. Yesterday, I walked over and looked around for some young ones that we might dig up. Success! I found two. So I emailed Butch and asked if we could have them. Yes, he wrote back.
Awhile ago, James and I walked over there, and he dug them both up.

I grew up with this native hot pepper but never paid much attention to them growing in our yard in Corpus Christi. Now I think they're extra cool and love the bright red fruit they produce in the winter. Birds supposedly eat the peppers, but I didn't see any dine on ours last year.

Here's one newly planted chile pequin....

And there's our second....welcome to our Wildscape, peppers!

Toad relocation

This chubby guy's been hanging out under our air conditioner drain, which is right by our back garage door. Not a safe place, I decided. So I moved him to the sanctuary, where I keep two special "toad" plates filled with water. As you can see, he settled right into his new home. Hope he stays there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


"Sweetheart, hurry!" James was videoing butterflies in the front yard when he hollered. An eastern tiger swallowtail on the butterfly weed. Awesome! So are the clouds of queens and an occasional monarch that are nectaring on the blue mistflowers. Right now, our Wildscape is just BEAUTIFUL!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Insect visitors and residents

My one big, fat black swallowtail caterpillar on a new rue plant...

I spotted this unidentified caterpillar on our blue mistflower,
which are being visited now by dozens of queens.

And this dragonfly kindly allowed me to photograph it
while it rested on a dead tomato branch...

Native vines

(See the little ant in this image?)

Meet my pigeonberry

One of my favorite native plants!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spider versus mantis

Yesterday, we were telling Patrick goodby when I noticed a beautiful argiope spider above the left garage door. I was oohing at her when James spotted a praying mantis over the other garage door. He joked about the mantis maybe wanting to eat the spider. Well, sure enough, James came back in the house later and exclaimed, "The praying mantis is gonna get the spider!"

So I rushed outside. Yep, the mantis had crawled over toward the spider and was eyeing her VERY hungrily. James went for the camera, and we snapped a few photos before I climbed on a ladder and nicely removed her so the spider would be out of harm's way.

Nice profile shots, eh? She posed as agreeably as she could.

Then we placed her in the salvia coccineas, where she'll find plenty of moths and other insects.

Honestly, I try not to interfere with nature too terribly much. But in this case, I had to intervene. The argiope over the garage is the only one I've seen this season, and I'd like her to hang around long enough to leave an egg sac for next spring.